Movie Review: Despicable Me 3, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Despicable Me 3, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda

Four Stars

Silly movie, which is what we hoped for.

A Franco-American production. Beats the adult offerings.

See it. With or without children.

 

 

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Movie Review: Dunkirk, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Dunkirk, written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan

Four Stars

“You can practically see it from here.” “What?’ “Home.”

The best kind of war movie, one that focuses on human-sized stories without losing track of the big picture. Historical fiction, but incredible realism and drama. Multiple viewings necessary to absorb the depth.

“He’s on me.” “I’m on him.”

Only criticism is the folded timeline. Nolan not only cut back and forth between plot lines, but breaks chronology. The attentive viewer sees the same event as many as five times from the point of view of five different characters. It adds depth to the story, but it often knocks the viewer out of the flow trying to figure out when and where we are.

“There’s no hiding from this, son. We have a job to do.”

 

Movie Review: Cars 3, directed by Brian Fee (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Cars 3, directed by Brian Fee

Four Stars

“Just focus on what you’re here to do.”

Better than Cars 2, though that’s a pretty low bar. Closer to the formula and feel of the original Cars. Not sure young watchers will get all the getting-older theme, but there’s plenty of action.

“Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance; you have the chance!”

Back to the NASCAR roots of the first Cars movie, plus a little nostalgia of the good old days of the racing community. Radiator Springs and citizens featured again. (Error: in one scene Lightning turns off the headlights he doesn’t have.)

“You’ll never be faster than Storm. You can outsmart him.”

Movie Review: Born in China (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Born in China, directed by Lu Chuan

Four Stars

Excellent cinematography. The narration was a bit too much. Much of the editing told the story without the attempts at explanation, humor or philosophy by the narrator.

I remember Disney True-Life Adventure movies sixty years ago. These are much better. Disneynature still meddles but it’s less obvious.

Movie Review: The Case for Christ, directed by Jon Gunn (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: The Case for Christ, directed by Jon Gunn

Four Stars

“There is no ‘what if’ with God.”

Better than the book, which I read and reviewed in 2003. The movie had a plot (several); the book was a set of investigations by then-atheist Lee Strobel into the truth behind Christianity. The book rests almost entirely on assertions from authority; the movie explores experience, feelings and motivation.

“You didn’t want to see [the truth].”

For what was obviously a low-budget film, Case was well-plotted and well-acted. The sub-plots add credibility and depth to Strobel’s search.

“I want whatever is next.”

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen

Four Stars

“I don’t want to survive; I want to live.”

Non-fiction descriptions of the ravages of slavery on America always beat the fictionalized accounts, no matter how dramatic. Twelve Years a Slave (on which this movie is based) and The Life of Frederick Douglass: an American Slave are more vivid and hit harder than even the melodrama of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s more famous Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“No man of conscience can take the lash to another day in and day out without doing damage to himself.”

This 2013 award-winning production of Solomon Northup’s 1840 ordeal loses none of its power for its modest budget and straight forward story telling. Brutal but realistic … unfortunately.

“Slavery is an evil that should befall none.”

Movie Review: Facing Darkness, directed by Arthur Rasco (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Facing Darkness, directed by Arthur Rasco

Four Stars

“Faith does not keep you safe,” Dr. Kent Brantly

A Samaritan’s Purse documentary about the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia and especially their staff who caught it. SP and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) were the only international agencies, neither sponsored by a government fighting the outbreak for the longest time.

“We don’t flee the fire; we run toward the fire. Jesus didn’t run away,” Franklin Graham

Popular response to this one-night showing was so good, that an encore showing is scheduled for April 10. Check local listings or the movie website.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son …” (John 3:16)

 

Movie Review: The Great Wall, directed by Yimou Zhang (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: The Great Wall, directed by Yimou Zhang

Three Stars

“What are they trying to keep out?”

A fun, fast, heroic fantasy set in a China just across the border from historic. Tempted to give it four stars simply because my expectations were so low. Beautiful cinematography. The few western characters provide non-Chinese audiences a point-of-view from which to wonder and adapt. Worthy themes: trust and loyalty beat greed.

Most violence–the movie is wall-to-wall violence–is fantastic, usually between humans and computer-generated monsters. Female characters, led by Jing Tian’s Commander Lin, are serious, competent, fighters and leaders. Lots of fanciful medieval technology: sort of ancient China-punk.

A good way to burn through a bucket of popcorn.

Movie Review: The Shack, directed by Stuart Hazeldine (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: The Shack, directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Five Stars

“She’s in a place where there is no impatience.”

Good show. Based on the book by William Paul Young, but better. (My review of the book.) Good production values. Not a big budget extravaganza, but well done. Nice nature shots. Octavia Spenser was outstanding.

“Where were you when I needed you?” “I never left you.”

Some Christians will have troubles with the plot and characterizations, but not me. It’s a movie. If it reverberates at a deeper level, so much the better. If not, enjoy it.

“Did God just call me an ‘idiot’?” “If the shoes fits …”

Worth seeing. Again.

Movie Review: La La Land (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: La La Land, written and directed by Damien Chazelle

Three Stars

“They worship everything (in Los Angeles), but love nothing.”

Fun. Well done. Amazing that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stones, apparently, can sing, dance and, in Ryan’s case, play piano. Popcorn for the heart.

“They love what other people are passionate about.”